Jalen Hurts is built to be a fantastic fantasy quarterback. But can he hang with the big boys and lead an NFL contender?
In a week with no NFL or Eagles news to speak of, for whatever reason, a ton of outlets have been writing about Jalen Hurts and expectations for the third-year QB this season. There seems to be a split between those who are all-in, completely “gung-ho” on the former second-round pick breaking through in 2022, and those who think he is simply a run-first game manager.
While some place in the middle is probably the right place to set your expectations, we thought it would be interesting to round up the thoughts we’ve seen about Hurts over the last few days for our latest “what they’re saying about the Eagles.”
Take a look:
It’s not a fantasy
Zach Berman | The Athletic
Berman starts out discussing some interesting facts which suggest that Hurts will likely run less in 2022. But that will put more pressure on his ability to pass accurately and consistently, both weaknesses from last season. Here’s some optimism to get you feeling good about Hurts:
Inside the Eagles’ building, there’s confidence that Hurts will be a better passer in 2022. For the first time since high school, he’s in the same scheme with the same play caller for a second consecutive year. He spent his offseason in California refining his mechanics. And the Eagles upgraded the weapons around him. The addition of A.J. Brown gives Hurts an established No. 1 receiver to join with DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. Brown excels at yards after the catch, and only 46.5 percent of Hurts’ yards last season came after the catch. That ranked 22nd in the NFL.
Hurts already showed a willingness to throw the ball downfield — he ranked fourth in the NFL last season in air yards per attempt (8.99), and 25.7 of his passes traveled at least 15 yards downfield. Only Russell Wilson had a higher rate. Hurts was second in the league in passes that went at or past the stick (48.4 percent). With Brown, Smith and Quez Watkins, the Eagles have receivers who can be vertical threats. The attention they command can help keep safeties away from Goedert. [The Athletic]
Do or die
Bryan Cameron | Philly Sports Network
How about the opposite point of view? In OTAs, Hurts looked good, generally, but still went though stretches where he made mistakes and struggled. Obviously, we haven’t even reached training camp yet and there is no reason to worry about the development of a player this early. But are there some breadcrumbs out there to suggest Hurts may not improve as much as people expect this coming fall?
While we shouldn’t be too concerned about practice at this point in the offseason, the fact of the matter is that this is the current reality of this team. While they have outdone themselves by stacking up at nearly every position except for Safety, their young QB is still at a crossroads in his growth.
With all of the expectations of this team rising by the day and players like Miles Sanders raving about the energy surrounding the team, the Eagles have very little room for failure. At this point the words rebuilding and retooling can no longer be used as an excuse. If Jalen Hurts doesn’t take the necessary steps forward then it could put this organization in a bind during the next offseason when they have to decide on what to do with the QB position.
The 2022 season is a do-or-die moment for Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles. Hurts will be playing for his second contract while the Eagles will be battling back and forth on who their QB will be for the 2023 season. I’ve never seen a QB under such scrutiny before but if there’s any QB that could come out of the scuffle victoriously, it would be Jalen Hurts. [Philly Sports Network]
An easy start
Ryan Loftus | Inside the Iggles
Perhaps there is no reason to overthink it. We’ve all seen what Hurts can do, his gifts, warts and all, and the Eagles’ schedule might provide some insight into how Hurts might look to start the season:
The Eagles open their 2022 schedule with the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Commanders, and Jacksonville Jaguars. They finished 28th, 26th, 8th, and 23rd against the run respectively as Minnesota, and the Jags fielded bottom-tier rushing defenses. If that trend continues, Hurts and the Eagles’ running backs may be able to run freely through the first four weeks of the season.
The Washington Commanders, although they had a good run defense, had the 29th best passing defense in the league, which will assist Hurts in getting the ball to his upgraded receiving corps. Playing poor defenses will help the Eagles start on the right foot and allow them to build momentum early in the season as opposed to later. [insidetheiggles.com]
The 4,000 club?
Ed Kracz | Sports Illustrated
With the season approaching, many outlets are starting to make projections for the upcoming season, and if you put any stock into Pro Football Focus, Hurts is expected to set a franchise record in passing yards (4,138). Only one other Eagle has ever eclipsed 4,000 yards, Carson Wentz in 2019. Those are pretty lofty expectations, but perhaps they are warranted?
Does Hurts have what it takes to top 4,000 yards, to go higher than anyone else before him in franchise history?
The odds are slanted in his favor if only because he has 17 games to do it, but also because he has a pair of wideouts in Brown and Smith who could both be called No. 1 receivers.
The key to doing it for Hurts, however, will be his ability to take advantage of the middle of the field, the area between the numbers, and even the hash marks, that Hurts has been hesitant to exploit in volume.
That part of the field figures to have openings with the sort of defensive headaches that come with figuring out how to cover a pair of threats on the outside in Brown and Smith. [sportsillustrated.com]
For what it’s worth, PFF’s projected total assumes Hurts will throw for 243.4 yards per game.
Dark horse MVP?
Brandon Lee Gowton | Bleeding Green Nation
So is Hurts going to be better in 2022? Is he going to lead the Eagles to an NFC East title? Is he going to set the franchise record in passing yards? If you are high on Hurts, perhaps you should put your money where your mouth is…
Jalen Hurts: MVP of the 2022 NFL season?
I would think even the most ardent Hurts supporters wouldn’t say that much is a likely outcome.
Hurts may very well improve entering his age 24 season. Howie Roseman did a lot to improve the Eagles’ roster to help him take a step forward.
But even if Hurts plays much better than he did last year, there’s a significant gap from where he was at in 2021 to being the league MVP. Not to mention the MVP competition figures to be fierce with other top quarterbacks firmly in the mix.
Just because Hurts isn’t the most likely candidate doesn’t mean he’s not worth betting on, though. With Hurts’ MVP odds at +2500, you can bet $20 to pay out $500. Only 11 players have shorter odds. Today’s Eagles Question of the Day is … is that a risk you’re willing to take? [BGN]
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